Camping is a wonderful way to get out into nature and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But to fully enjoy your camping experience, you need the right gear. One essential piece of equipment is a camping tarp, which provides shelter from the elements and keeps you and your gear dry.
With so many camping tarps on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best camping tarps of 2023. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the outdoors, our list will help you find the perfect tarp for your next adventure.
1. Best Overall: WHITEDUCK Canvas Heavy Duty Tarp
The WHITEDUCK Canvas Tarp is a durable and versatile four-season tarp that provides reliable protection in any weather. Made from heavy-duty 18 oz. numbered duck cotton canvas fabric with a wax treatment, this tarp features rust-proof grommets and double-stitched seams and hems with rot-resistant thread for long-lasting use.
While it may not be the best choice for backpacking due to its weight, it comes in several sizes, making it a great option for basecamping, car camping, and overlanding. The reinforced grommets and wax-treated canvas provide excellent coverage during sudden storms, and the natural material makes it easier to repair any rips or tears, giving it better overall longevity.
2. Best for Rugged Use: XPose Safety Super Heavy Duty 16 Mil Brown Poly Tarp
The XPose Safety Super Heavy Duty Tarp is a weatherproof and multipurpose tarp that offers ultimate outdoor protection. Made from 16mm thick, rip-resistant polyethylene material with reinforced corners and metal grommets, this tarp is designed to withstand rugged use and resist UV damage.
It comes in various sizes, making it suitable for a range of activities, from ground cover for a small tent to a rain and snow fly for a hunting camp or woodpile cover over the winter.
While the thick materials make it heavy, the tarp’s durability and all-weather protection make it an ideal choice for any season. Whether you’re camping, hunting, or working outdoors, the XPose Safety Super Heavy Duty Tarp is a top consideration for those seeking a durable and reliable camping tarp.
3. Best for Backpacking: Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp
The Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp is a must-have for minimalist backpackers or as an emergency shelter due to its ultralightweight and versatile design. Made from 15 denier Ultra-Sil Nano materials, it can be packed down to be smaller than a standard water bottle.
Although small in size, it can be used as a primary camp shelter or a mess shelter for cooking in the rain. Additionally, it has strong tie-out points and multiple setup options, making it an excellent option for those seeking a highly functional and durable tarp for backpacking.
However, its primary use is as a shelter, and it is not recommended for heavy-duty use.
4. Best for Hammock Camping: Kammock Kuhli Tarp
The Kammock Kuhli Tarp is a versatile and adaptable shelter that is perfect for hammock camping and other outdoor activities. With its Patagium™ 15D diamond ripstop nylon material, Sil/PU and DWR waterproofing, and sealed seams, it offers strong moisture protection in all weather conditions.
The Kuhli Tarp is also lightweight, packable, and easy to set up with its knotless guyline system. It comes with stakes and guylines, making it easy to secure and sturdy when set up.
While the price may be a bit high, the quality of the Kuhli Tarp makes it a worthwhile investment for any outdoor enthusiast looking for a durable and versatile shelter.
5. Best for Car Camping: Kelty Waypoint Tarp
It sounds like the Kelty Waypoint Tarp is a great choice for car camping enthusiasts who want to take their setup to the next level. Its larger surface area and attachment points make it more versatile than traditional square awnings, providing better wind, rain, and sun protection.
While it is not as wide as a traditional awning, the Waypoint Tarp offers quick setup and is an affordable option. However, it’s important to note that it only works with vehicles and cannot be used as a stand-alone tarp.
How We Chose The Best Camping Tarps
When selecting a camping tarp, it’s important to consider how it will be used. A tarp that’s suitable for ground cover may not be ideal for shelter, but there are multi-functional options available. When evaluating products, we consider durability, versatility, sustainability, and customer service.
We look for tarps that are made of high-quality materials, have clear instructions for cleaning and storage, come with a warranty, and are repairable. We also prioritize tarps that can be used for various purposes and are made with sustainable materials that can be recycled or repurposed.
Additionally, we value companies that provide excellent customer service, are transparent about their manufacturing process, and have positive reviews from verified customers. Our recommendations are influenced by our personal experience with some products, customer feedback, and company-specific research.
What to Consider When Buying The Best Camping Tarps
When looking to buy the best camping tarp for your needs, there are several key factors to consider. Firstly, it’s important to think about how you plan to use the tarp, as this will affect the size, shape, and material you need. Secondly, you should consider the durability of the tarp, including whether it comes with cleaning and storage instructions, repair information, and a warranty.
Versatility is also an important consideration, as a versatile tarp can be used for a range of different purposes. Additionally, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor for many buyers, and you should look for tarps made from materials that can be repurposed or recycled, and which have a waterproof coating that is environmentally friendly.
Customer service is another key factor to consider, as you want to ensure that the company is responsive to questions and concerns, and is transparent about their manufacturing process and what you can expect from the product. Finally, it can be helpful to look at verified customer feedback and conduct some company-specific research to gain additional insights into the quality of the product and the company’s reputation.
FAQs about Best Camping Tarps
How can you hang a tarp for camping?
To hang a tarp for camping, tie one corner or side to a tree and stake or weigh the other side/corners to the ground. Attach cords to the grommets on the side or corners, and tie them to trees or stake the cords down to keep it taut.
Are camping tarps worth the investment?
Yes, camping tarps are worth the investment, especially if you plan to use one as part of your shelter. Camping tarps have many uses, from providing shade and rain shelter to covering gear or acting as a ground tarp to protect the bottom of your tent.
What is the cost range of camping tarps?
The cost range of camping tarps can vary greatly depending on the quality and intended use. You can find a tarp for as little as $5, or you can pay upwards of $150. The product materials, durability, size, versatility, and waterproofing all factor into the price.
What type of camping tarp should you choose?
The type of camping tarp you should choose depends on your needs and how you plan to use it. When choosing a camping tarp, waterproofing and durability are two key factors to consider. The versatility of the tarp may not be as pressing, but it is a nice perk. Read through our buying considerations to help you narrow down the best camping tarp for your needs.
How thick should a camping tarp be?
The thickness of a camping tarp can vary depending on its intended use. For example, a ground tarp only needs to be around 2mm thick, whereas a tarp used for general purposes such as covering gear or providing shelter should be 5mm thick or more.
Is a tarp a better option than a tent for camping?
Tents offer better overall protection and are a better option than tarps for use as a shelter. However, tarps are excellent for survival, ultralight setups, and hammock camping. Tarps are more packable and have versatile uses, but tents often do a better job in terms of shelter.
What is the strongest material for camping tarps?
Tarps made from vinyl-coated polyester or high-density polyethylene are among the strongest and most durable options. Other tarp materials like canvas and nylon are also very strong but may not perform as well in terms of packability and waterproofing.